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Showing 1-10 of 19 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 44 reviews
VINE VOICEon March 16, 2014
Exploring exceptional groups, such as the Manhattan Project, the Lockheed Skunk Works, Apple Macintosh and others, the authors explore the commonalities of high performing teams. The approach the authors use is a series of vignettes, each focusing on a different exceptional group - their composition, accomplishments, approaches,commonalities and travails.

Identifying 15 different traits common to high performing teams, the book provides a reasonably entertaining look at the studied groups, as well as a pretty concise and useful recap of the traits at the end of the book. The introduction and the summary are solid, if unspectacular. As noted by a few other reviewers, the book occasionally bogs down in spots. However, it is one of the better of its type and a quick, entertaining read.
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on December 2, 2013
This is why I surround myself with capable people! I don't have to know everything - but I am smart enough to know some things and when I don't know, I do know who I can go to for a perfect answer… I'm in the field of education, and I have my "reading genius", my "assessment genius", "School improvement genius", etc. I even give them credit (suicide not to!) but I still seem (and get) brilliant because I get the perfect answer each time. I don't mean to make light of the concept - the book gives examples where surrounding yourself with capable people and cultivating that talent has worked, and I can think of few areas in life where that would not be a wise and productive thing to do.
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If you were to look up the word "leadership" in any reputable dictionary, it would probably suggest that you contact Warren Bennis. No one has written more and more enlightening commentary on the subject of leadership than has he. In Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration, he and Patricia Ward Biederman examine a number of what the authors call "Great Groups." Perhaps the most important point is introduced in the first chapter: "None of us is as smart as all of us."
That is to say, the "Great Man" theory is invalidated by the achievements of truly creative teams such as those at the Disney studios which produced so many animation classics; at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) which developed the first personal computer; at Apple Computer which then took it to market; in the so-called "War Room" which helped to elect Bill Clinton President in 1992; at the so-called "Skunk Works" where so many of Lockheed's greatest designs were formulated; at Black Mountain College which "wasn't simply a place where creative collaboration took place. It was about creative collaboration"; and at Los Alamos (NM) and the University of Chicago where the Manhattan Project eventually produced a new weapon called "the Gadget."
Bennis and Biederman conclude Organizing Genius by providing 15 "Take-Home Lessons." Each is directly relevant to any organization which aspires to accomplish what Steve Jobs once described as being "insanely great."
With all due respect to the command-and-control skills of great leaders in the past (including most of those enshrined in the "Business Hall of Fame"), such skills simply are not effective today. "None of us is as smart as all of us." A group can become "great" only if and when it possesses both genius in each member and the leadership necessary to achieve creative collaboration by those members. With rare exception, "Genius" in isolation simply cannot accomplish what "genius" in creative collaboration can.
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on December 31, 2010
There are 21 key elements of great groups that I believe emerge from Bennis and Biederman's analysis. I have listed them below. While the 21 elements aren't that surprising, the book does make three surprising revelations about the elements. First, all of these 21 elements feature in all of the great groups. It would seem that you don't get a great group unless all of these conditions are met, somehow. Second, these elements are not planned and implemented top down. They seem to evolve organically from the leadership. Third, the manifestation of these key elements is not slick, fair, institutionalized or particularly attractive taken out of context. Human Resources and Senior Management are not likely to cheerfully sign off on a strategy to create these conditions. Even if they do, you probably can't implement these 21 elements top down and get a great group. That is the dilemma we are left with when we finish this book. We can see what a great group looks like but it is not certain that we can actually create one deliberately! That said, Organizing Genius is a great read, the stories are vibrant and detailed and it's a pleasure getting a little glimpse of what it was like to work on the first personal computer, Snow White and the first U.S. jet fighter. While the stories can't show you precisely how to create a great group, they will give you good idea of what a Great Group looks like and feels like and that is a big help!

Great Groups - Key Elements - A Checklist

1. A clear, tangible outcome. The best outcomes are widely recognized as important or fantastic.
2. An outrageous vision for the outcome.
3. A leader who can get people to get personally committed to the vision and the outcome.
4. Exceptionally capable people on the team - the best talent available.
5. A leader that the team respects.
6. A leader who gives the team members the information, recognition and latitude they need to deliver the outcome.
7. A leader who keeps the team focused without micro managing it.
8. A shabby workplace with access to all the equipment, materials, tools and training the team needs to deliver the outcome.
9. Team is protected from bureaucracy of the sponsor/sponsor organization.
10. The workplace enables collaboration.
11. Team is insulated from distractions.
12. There is one focus for the team - the outcome.
13. Team members have responsibilities that are aligned to their expertise, interests, and capabilities.
14. Team members are willing to work on what needs to be worked on when it needs to be worked on.
15. People don't always get along but everyone wants to achieve the outcome so this common desire transcends individual conflicts.
16. Team members know that each team member has been personally selected for the team because he or she is most able to get the job done.
17. Failure is accepted; incompetence and disloyalty is not.
18. The team has a common enemy.
19. The team believes they are on a mission from God.
20. The team doesn't realize their mission is impossible and impractical.
21. The team is physically separated from those not on the team but retains a linkage with the ultimate sponsors of the mission generally via the team leader(s).
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on June 18, 2015
Excellent book on how team work combined with extraordinary individual talents can lead to outstanding innovations and high levels of creative production.
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on December 7, 2013
Despite the fact it lacks of depth in certain groups, it is an enjoyable well written book. This book is not about intended to teach how to become a leader but to have some insights of leadership and working groups that have been fantastic all over history.
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on March 31, 2010
A great blueprint for success in any collaborative endeavor. Having been a part of at least three "Great Groups," as they are defined by Bennis, I can attest to the accuracy of his assessment of the qualities that are the hallmark of such groups. Especially to the point is his description of the attributes of the leaders of great groups and their lack of interest in the limelight.
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on July 24, 2013
I like the several stories about different group types and how each of those group types had similarities that made each of them great groups in the eyes of the author. It was boring at times but over all OK.
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on November 23, 2015
Awesome book!
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on August 17, 2015
My favorite book.
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